When ?uestlove of the Roots tweeted yesterday afternoon that "thurston moore is wearing the riskiest tshirt ive ever seen on broadcast tv....gangsta move son," we made sure to override our DVR season pass for the repeat episode of Larry King Live (one hour a night just isn't enough, people!) to watch Sonic Youth's performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Sadly, the combination of the placement of Thurston's guitar and some creative camerawork on behalf of the Late Night director all but made it impossible to see exactly what got ?uestlove so riled up, but that didn't stop us, your inquisitive Vulture editors, from doing some digging to get to the bottom of the story!
We reached out to Sonic Youth's record label, Matador Records, to see if they could shed any light on the situation. Here's what the label's publicist, Nils Bernstein, told us:ok, so it was a guy sitting on the ass of a girl with her legs crossed up over her head (making her ass stick up) with his hands pensively clasped in front of him. for the record, it's a hand painted one-off, made from a stencil [artist Chris Habib] used for a limited-edition handpainted watercolor. that is, there is no t-shirt 'product', the design was used for something else, and he just handmade a t-shirt for thurston as a special treat.
While not quite as envelope-pushing as the time when Anil Dash wore a goatse shirt to a New York Times photo shoot, we still applaud Thurston Moore for going the extra mile to prove that a shirt that depicts people in the midst of a salad-tossing session does, in fact, belong on late-night television. However, we are a little bit disappointed that he had a last-minute change of heart that resulted in his opting not to wear another of Habib's T-shirt designs, one that shows "a perpetual circle of fisting contortionists." Maybe next time!
And oh yes, just in case you were wondering, their smokin' performance of "No Way" kicked all sorts of ass. Some serious shredding going on here, folks.
UPDATE: Looks like the Village Voice did some independent research of their own (nice work!). Here's the design that stirred up the controversy: